Top dog?

中国日报网 2018-02-09 13:19



Top dog?Reader question:

In this quote, “Carl is the top dog here”, what does “top dog” mean exactly.

My comments:

It means Carl calls the shots here.

In other words, everyone does what Carl says.

Obviously, we are talking about people, not real dogs. In the real doggie world, top dog is synonymous with the Alpha dog, alpha being the first letter in the Greek alphabet.

Alpha being the first letter of the alphabet, alpha dog, hence, is the leading dog of a pack, the first and foremost member of group. The alpha dog can either be a male (hence the term alpha male) or a female. It is the dominant member of the whole pack. When the pack goes hunting, the alpha male leads the attack; when the pack eats their prey, the alpha male gets to eat first and gets to eat the best parts.

Oh, top dog.

When the alpha dog meets and greets another dog, the other dog is usually seen rolling on its back while holding the alpha dog by the neck and licking his hair and legs and so forth. By doing so, the dog on its back is demonstrating his or her loyalty, obedience plus assiduities toward the top dog, which is standing tall and firm on its four legs.

In this position, one can have no doubt which dog is in the more advantageous prestigious and dominating position.

Definitely not the underdog, exactly.

Now, we learn another term, the underdog, the one that’s the lesser, weaker party.

We often hear the term underdog in sports competitions. In that environment, the underdog is the weaker competitor. The underdog is, you guessed it right, NOT expected to win.

The top dog, you guessed it again, wins – or at least is always expected to win.

All right?

All right. Let’s read a few media examples to put “top dog” into greater perspective:

1. You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a "yes" vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya - the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online. According to diplomatic protocol, their names cannot be disclosed. One of the diplomats said, "This is the reason why we could not support resolution 1973. We were arguing that Libya, Bahrain and Yemen were similar cases, and calling for a fact-finding mission. We maintain our official position that the resolution is not clear, and may be interpreted in a belligerent manner."

As Asia Times Online has reported, a full Arab League endorsement of a no-fly zone is a myth. Of the 22 full members, only 11 were present at the voting. Six of them were Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the US-supported club of Gulf kingdoms/sheikhdoms, of which Saudi Arabia is the top dog. Syria and Algeria were against it. Saudi Arabia only had to "seduce" three other members to get the vote.

Translation: only nine out of 22 members of the Arab League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his CV with Washington with an eye to become the next Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-revolution.

Humanitarian imperialists will spin en masse this is a "conspiracy", as they have been spinning the bombing of Libya prevented a hypothetical massacre in Benghazi. They will be defending the House of Saud - saying it acted to squash Iranian subversion in the Gulf; obviously R2P - "responsibility to protect" does not apply to people in Bahrain. They will be heavily promoting post-Gaddafi Libya as a new - oily - human rights Mecca, complete with US intelligence assets, black ops, special forces and dodgy contractors.

Whatever they say won't alter the facts on the ground - the graphic results of the US-Saudi dirty dancing. Asia Times Online has already reported on who profits from the foreign intervention in Libya (see There's no business like war business, March 30). Players include the Pentagon (via Africom), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Saudi Arabia, the Arab League's Moussa, and Qatar. Add to the list the al-Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain, assorted weapons contractors, and the usual neo-liberal suspects eager to privatize everything in sight in the new Libya - even the water. And we're not even talking about the Western vultures hovering over the Libyan oil and gas industry.

- Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal,, April 2, 2011.

2. If you’re a cabinet secretary or a senior staffer in the Trump administration and somehow get on the bad side of the boss, then you better watch out. Eventually, Trump will unleash hell in your direction in the most public of ways. Perhaps it will be a stream of early morning tweets to his thirty-four million followers, an expression of disappointment at a news conference, or a shot across the bow during a newspaper interview about your job security. Either way, the cabinet officer on thin ice will get the message; for the last month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus have had their turn in the barrel.

But there is another cabinet secretary who—while not under Trump’s microscope—is becoming sick and tired of being undermined by the White House staff and is fed up with arguing over every candidate he nominates for an ambassadorial slot or a senior State Department position. Rex Tillerson is used to being the top dog in his organization. He is used to hiring and firing whomever he wants, whenever he wants. He is accustomed to renovating the organization he leads in order to cut costs or boost efficiency. However, during his nearly six months at the State Department, Tillerson has quickly discovered that serving as America’s top diplomat isn’t a very rewarding experience—especially when the position requires that he report to a president who doesn’t particularly care for or appreciate the work diplomats have to offer.

The new rumor mill around Washington is spinning over Tillerson’s fate as Secretary of State, not because he hasn’t earned President Trump’s trust, but because he doesn’t have the freedom to run the State Department the way that his predecessors ran the State Department. As one source told Reuters on July 24, Tillerson is “very upset at not having autonomy, independence and control over his own department and the ability to do the job the way the job . . . is traditionally done.” Senior and mid-ranking diplomats have expressed their disheartened concern in Tillerson’s leadership, in part because their colleagues are under strain, demoralized and have discovered that the valuable work they perform isn’t appreciated by the White House.

- Tillerson's Tenure: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly,, August 7, 2017.

3. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia stars Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton are set to appear in a brand new comedy.

Deadline reports that Fox has ordered a new pilot for a series called Cool Kids, starring the Always Sunny trio. Cool Kids has been described as a “multi-camera comedy” set in a retirement community, or “high school with 70 somethings”.

Day, McElhenney and Howerton will play “three guy friends in a retirement community who are the top dogs until they’re blown out of the water by the newest member of the community, a female rebel who’s ready to challenge their place.”

- ‘It’s Always Sunny’ trio to star in new comedy ‘Cool Kids' -, September 7, 2017.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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